Distillery: Clynelish. Region: Highlands. ABV: 46%. Age: 14 years. Price: $55-65.
Where once there was Brora, now there is Clynelish (pron. KLINE-lish). The legendary heavily peated Brora came from an upper Highlands distillery known as Clynelish 1–right across the street from today’s Clynelish 2. C1 was supposed to be shuttered when the more modern C2 opened in 1968, but it got a new lease on life with the new name Brora, and the two ran side by side from 1969-83, when C1 was closed for good.
That ’69-83 Islay-style run at Brora was legendarily good, but the milder malt made at its sister distillery across the street is nothing to sneeze at.
Clynelish is peated at 30ppm, which for me is a real sweet spot.(Ardbeg 10 is 55-65ppm for comparison.) Most of Clynelish’s production is blended into Johnnie Walker Gold, but it’s in this distillery bottling (and the odd independent bottling) that it shines as a single malt.
Intriguing, supple mix of golden malt, strawberry roll, toasty baked goods, and candles on the nose. More and more interesting with time in the glass. The peat is just detectable on the palate–closer to the sweet mesquite end of the spectrum than the briny. Buttery char, without losing its brightness. The shortish finish brings you back for another sip quickly.
There’s something for everyone here, except the most incorrigible extremists. A fair 46% ABV, $55-65. Save one for later–you’ll be glad you did.
Cheers, friends! -BO